TRAFFIC: Speed traps film shock
SPEEDING motorists could be escaping fines because only a quarter of speed cameras on Peterborough's roads are fitted with film.
Drivers dreading the postman bringing speeding tickets after being 'caught' by a flashing camera have escaped getting points on their licences.
However, today's news that 75 per cent of the 66 cameras on Cambridgeshire's roads have no film angered the mother of a car crash victim – despite road safety chiefs insisting that cameras slow drivers down whether they are loaded or not.
Sara Christmas, whose 17-year-old daughter Claire Hilbert was killed on the Fletton Parkway at Stanground, Peterborough, last year said: "It's Claire's birthday next week, and things like this just hit home our loss. There are still so many young people dying on the roads, what is the point of spending money on putting up cameras and then not filling them with film?
"Effectively, if someone gets away with it once they might speed through it the next time and the time after that. It's absolute madness.
"Until something like this happens to you I think it is hard to see the importance of safety measures on the roads."
However, Stuart Clarkson, spokesman for the Cambridgeshire Safety Camera Partnership, said: "All safety cameras have the appearance of being live, so will always detect vehicles travelling in excess of the speed limit.
"The live camera equipment is rotated on a regular basis, so the only way to tell if a camera contains film is if you get a letter in the post.
"Whether active or not, the boxes are successful at reducing speeds and casualties.
"In the first year of the partnership's operations, there was a 55 per cent reduction in the number of people killed, or seriously injured, on the stretches of road where cameras are."
Pc Mick McCready, casualty reduction officer for Cambridgeshire police, said: "From my point of view, the speed cameras do work.
"Even though they may not all be active, the figures show that they cut casualties, and that is the main objective."
News of the toothless speed deterrent emerged in a car magazine survey, showing the county came high in a list of authorities with un-armed cameras.
In Essex, two-thirds of the 96 cameras are fully functioning, and in Northamptonshire 40 per cent of 42 cameras are always working.
The cameras, a familiar sight on roads since the mid-1990s, have often been labelled a money-making exercise.
Last year, the county's drivers paid more than £1.2 million in speeding fines, when 20,763 drivers were hit with penalties of £60.
Money collected from the cameras goes straight into Government coffers, although the partnership can claim back running and staff costs, as well as cash to set up new cameras.
13 October 2005